Surrey University Stag

BEYOND TOLKIEN - REWRITING FANTASY - 2023/4

Module code: ELIM053

Module Overview

Fantasy stories, poems, novels and other forms have been a staple of cultural consumption throughout the 20th and 21st Centuries but have a history as old as storytelling and literature itself. Naturally, we will use the term ¿literature¿ in its widest creative writing sense, which would include visual, performative, virtual and other mediums as well as more traditional on-the-page forms.
The term ¿fantasy¿ has many sub-genres, categories and types of writing associated with it, and indeed alongside it, from myth and legend, fairy tales and historical fantasy, to high or epic fantasy, dark fantasy, magical realism and low fantasy to hybrids such as science-fantasy, gothic fantasy, comic fantasy, and fantasy noir. There are many, many more to choose from.
There are also plenty of examples of other forms of speculative fiction writing that intersect with or spill over into what we might refer to as ¿fantasy¿ in different ways ¿ Star Wars is a famous example, where, even though its stories are set in a Science Fiction setting, the forms in which these stories are told, and the techniques and tropes used to tell them, arguably make these closer to fantasy stories than traditional Science Fiction. Superhero fiction is another form that we can often readily describe in terms of ¿fantasy¿ tropes.

This creative writing module will help give you an introduction to different forms of fantasy writing and will ask the question: what makes fantasy writing ¿fantasy¿, and how can we as writers plan and produce writing that stands out from the crowd of existing fantasy literary production?
Following an initial introduction, the module will be spilt into 5 blocks of two weeks each looking in detail at specific different aspects of writing fantasy literature. These blocks may change from year to year to take advantage of our staff expertise in particular areas, and will really allow students to unpack aspects of these areas that are useful to them as writers and creative practitioners.
Alongside, and interwoven with, essential stylistic and craft creative writing considerations such as world building, structure, character and voice, dialogue, narrative and plot we might examine writing gender and sexuality in fantasy, writing race and identity in fantasy, transnational and post-colonial writing in a fantasy context, writing historical fantasy fiction/poetry, eco-fantasy writing, comedic fantasy writing, writing monsters and monstrosity, writing the multiverse and more.

Note that this module will not focus on young adult (YA) and childrens¿ literature as we have excellent provision for this elsewhere in the MA programme.

In each seminar we will first spend some time discussing the set texts and the techniques and standpoints employed by writers and other artists working in the wider fantasy fields, before moving on to the workshop part of the session where students will produce work in accordance with the task set for that week, within and outside of the classroom. We will read and discuss a selection of pieces within each class.

At the end of the semester students will produce a creative portfolio of creative writing, alongside a critical commentary reflecting on the creative work produced and using theories, concepts and practices studied on the module.

Possible submissions for the creative portfolio include prose (short stories, extracts from longer works, flash fiction or other forms of prose writing), poetry, screenwriting, writing for the stage, graphic novels and other visual forms, game writing, interactive fiction and more.

Module provider

School of Literature and Languages

Module Leader

MOONEY Stephen (Lit & Langs)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

JACs code:

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 95

Seminar Hours: 22

Tutorial Hours: 2

Guided Learning: 20

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

None

Module content

The following areas are indicative of topics that may be covered:

¿ Fantasy and genre
¿ Fantasy roots
¿ Writing gender
¿ Writing sexuality
¿ Writing race and identity
¿ Writing monstrosity
¿ Transnational writing
¿ Writing historical fiction/poetry
¿ Eco writing
¿ Comedic fantasy writing
¿ Long and short form
¿ Narrative form & plot
¿ Character and voice/dialogue
¿ World building
¿ Fantastic geographies
¿ Writing the multiverse

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Creative Portfolio (3000 words or equivalent) plus critical commentary (1500 words) 100

Alternative Assessment

n/a

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:

¿ the development in their knowledge and understanding of creative texts and textuality as well as and creative practices, especially in relation to fantasy literature and creative writing and other theory
¿ their understanding of the social, cultural, historical and geographical contexts for the production of creative texts and of the way those texts intervene in related discourses
¿ their understanding of genre based (and specifically fantasy forms of this) textuality in relation to creativity and the formal and aesthetic dimensions of ¿literary¿ and ¿non-literary¿ creative texts
¿ a range of subject specific and transferable skills gained in creative and critical thinking, in the production of creative texts and critical contextualisation of these, and of practical support in the development of employability and/or creative practice skills
Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

a Creative Portfolio (3000 words or equivalent) plus critical commentary (1500 words)

Formative assessment and feedback

Verbal feedback in class, written and/or oral feedback on one piece of creative writing (maximum of 1000 words of prose or equivalent for poetry, screenplay, dramatic script, graphic novel or other static visual media, or film or other moving visual media).

Formative ¿feed forward¿ is provided through seminar discussions, tutor feedback in seminars, and a range of other feedback mechanisms agreed between tutor and students in week 1 of the module, such as seminar contribution and writing and collaborative exercises.

Module aims

  • Facilitate the acquisition of the detailed knowledge and skills necessary for producing creative writing texts in the broader fantasy field, with a particular focus on genre, form, characterisation/voice and worldbuilding.
  • Develop in students a thorough critical understanding of writing practices in fantasy genres and forms in the context of contemporary culture through a range of prose, poetic, dramatic and visual texts
  • Develop the ability in students to analyse and appraise compositional styles and techniques in modes of writing and representation pertaining to fantasy writing of different kinds, and apply critical insights to their own writing practices
  • Help students attain the ability to apply critical awareness to their own creative production, to critically develop their thinking about their own practice as writers and to present this in cogent terms
  • Encourage students to work as a group in the production of collaborative work in the workshop context
  • Foster semi-structured individual and communal activities in class, including gameplay, with the consequent development of individual and collaborative practice within the architecture of the module
  • Encourage students to submit work for publication
  • Develop in students an advanced understanding of the connections between fantasy conventions in both ¿literary¿ and ¿non-literary¿ forms and writing practices in the context of contemporary cultural concerns, theories and movements

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 By the end of the module students will have gained an ability to use specific compositional skills that will have practical application to their practices as writers KPT
002 By the end of the module students will have more fully developed their sense of their own practice as writers and/or that of other writers in relation to fantasy genres and forms, and composition practices that have had, and continue to have, significant impact upon and significance for contemporary culture and cultural production KPT
003 By the end of the module students will have gained significant confidence and ability in critically analysis and thinking in relation to fantasy genres and modes of writing as well as to their own creative production C
004 By the end of the module students will have developed a stronger sense of the materials and techniques available to them as writers and begun to locate this work within the context of contemporary writing in these forms and the social and cultural areas that these ¿literary¿ and ¿non-literary¿ forms address CKP
005 By the end of the module students will have established a knowledge of the context of both conventional, radical and experimental writing practices that have been developed in relation to fantasy genres and textualities, and have begun to locate this work within the context of contemporary fantasy writing K
006 By the end of the module students will have produced work individually and in groups, as well as have been introduced to intermedial collaborative ideas CT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

¿ Hone and develop students¿ writing skills in creative and academic writing (prose fiction, poetry, screenwriting and/or other modes of production) by more fully developing their sense of their own practice as writers in relation to traditional, contemporary and experimental practices that have been developed in relation to fantasy literature and writing that have had, and continue to have, a significant formative effects on contemporary literature, film and culture
¿ Assist students in locating literary texts and their creative and critical writing in historical and cultural contexts by helping students understand the context of traditional and canonical as well as radical and experimental writing practices that connect fantasy, genre and writing theory to contemporary social, culture and literary practices and modes of consumption
¿ Equip students with the research and writing skills they will need to produce creative writing (prose fiction, poetry, screenwriting and/or other modes of production) and critically informed creative criticism by helping them gain significant confidence and ability in critically analysis and thinking, and an ability to use specific compositional skills that will have practical application to their practices as writers
¿ Facilitate students¿ productive reflection on both the creative process itself and the finished work by helping them gain significant confidence and ability in critical analysis and thinking, and an ability to use specific compositional skills that will have practical application to their practices as writers

The learning and teaching methods include:

2 hour seminar x 11 weeks.
2 hour portfolio or essay-planning session.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

https://readinglists.surrey.ac.uk
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ELIM053

Other information

none

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Creative Writing MA 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
English Literature MA 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2023/4 academic year.